2019 2020 Happenings
Club Receives District Awards
After the announcements at Rotary District 7475’s virtual meeting last week, President Tom Damm and First Lady Peggy Damm secured the awards won by the club. Pictured are Past District Governor Ray Freaney with the “Outstanding Club of the Year” trophy, and Rotarian Danely Gonzalez with the “Care & Share” award for our Winter Survival Kits project benefitting the Rescue Mission of Trenton.
Megan’s Place Flower Planting
Rotarians met yesterday morning to plant flowers at Megan’s Place, a Hamilton Township park built in memory of Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old murdered in a home on the site in 1994. The Rotary Club raised $150,000 to purchase the home, demolish it, and build the park. The flowers were donated by Tony’s Farm and Garden Center. Usually, local school children attend this annual spring planting, but that was not possible this year because of health and safety concerns. Megan’s father, Rich Kanka, joined club members and stood next to Greg Blair during Greg’s remarks about the history of Megan’s Place.
Guest Speaker Joyce E. Campbell, Executive Director of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK)
The Rotary Club guest speaker last evening was Joyce E. Campbell, Executive Director of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). Joyce has written that her mission is to alleviate the impact of poverty and advocate to eliminate poverty. After receiving a Masters Degree in Social Work from Rutgers University, she worked at a community medical center, then for Catholic Charities, and for the past four years as the TASK Executive Director. She also works with Rutgers Masters of Social Work graduate students as they transition to field placements.
Joyce told us how the current health crisis has affected TASK’s operations. After their dining room at the Escher St. headquarters was closed, they began serving meals curb-side there and at several satellite centers. That program resulted in a fifty percent increase in meals served through May, a testament to the core group of employees working there since mid-March.
To learn more about TASK and their many programs, and to support them with a donation, visit http://www.trentonsoupkitchen.org/
Meeting Highlights 6/16/20
The Rotary Club weekly meeting last night featured guest speaker Rob Anthes, managing editor at Community News Service LLC, and also editor of the Hamilton Post. He was joined by Jennifer “Jenn” Cacciabaudo, Community News Service’s Senior Account Executive. Rob’s writing has been honored by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists, the Keystone Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Free Community Papers, and he was a 2019 fellow at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting. He told us that while the current health crisis has presented challenges to the publisher, it has also created interest in local news and resulted in increased traffic to their website.
Rob introduced us to a new regional arts, food and culture publication called Six09 which will highlight what’s happening throughout the (609) area code. The supplement will be mailed with copies of The Hamilton Post, Robbinsville Advance, and other Community News monthlies, and will be available online at www.communitynews.org.
Dollars for Scholars Final Drawing
The Rotary Club’s original plan for the “Dollars for Scholars” raffle was to draw winning tickets each week during our regular Friday meetings at Golden Dawn Diner. With that venue closed since March, and in the spirit of the state gaming license, our raffle committee pulled tickets in the diner parking lot. Here’s a video of the final drawing, starring Rotarians Tom Damm, Sharon Lucidi, Ken Diener and George Ott, and produced by Dan Sczweck
Mask Donation to Hamilton YMCA
Under the leadership of President Bill Coleman, Rotary Club members made personal donations of funds to purchase 3,000 face masks for the Hamilton Area YMCA. The staff will need PPE as they work to restart the many great YMCA programs. Pictured, from left, are Dan Sczweck, Y Director of Staff Development (and great Rotarian); incoming Rotary Club President Tom Damm; and Jill Makkay, Chief Operating Officer & Executive Director of the Hamilton Area YMCA.
Bagels for Heroes Project Wraps Up
Our “Bagels for Heroes” project was completed this morning with visits to RWJ Primary Care Express, Capital Health Primary Care Nottingham, Rosehill Assisted Living Center and the Robbinsville Police Department. Big shout-outs to: Sezer Ates, our community service partner with his Caesar’s Bagels & Deli business; Rotarian Keith Platt, the project manager; Rotarian Dan Sczweck, our YouTube videographer; the many volunteers who helped out; and Rotary District 7475 for their special COVID-19 project grant.
Featured Guest Speaker Diana Zita, CEO of the Hamilton Area YMCA
Our Rotary Club meeting via Zoom last night featured guest speaker Diana Zita, CEO of the Hamilton Area YMCA. She was joined by Josh Morgan, the Y’s Fund Development Manager. Diana joined the Y as the CFO ten years ago after working in the corporate world as a finance executive, and then three years ago was appointed as the first female CEO in the almost 70-year history of the organization. She and Josh used a slide presentation, “the Y – We’re open FOR GOOD,” to highlight their programs, including swim lessons, fitness & wellness, youth activities and sports, among many others. The Y supports a number of programs for individuals with diverse abilities, including the Miracle League of Mercer County. Recent restrictions on their activities has created a funding shortage at the Y. Diana and Josh emphasized the importance of public support now so they are in a position to offer their many services once the health crisis situation improves. For more information about the Hamilton Area YMCA and to donate, visit https://www.hamiltonymca.org/donate/ways-to-give.
Our Newest Rotarian – Christopher “Chris” Merlino
The Rotary Club meeting tonight via the Zoom app featured a “Classification Talk” by our newest Rotarian, Christopher “Chris” Merlino. Chris is the proprietor and funeral director of Buklad-Merlino Memorial Homes in Hamilton Township. Prior to taking over management of that business full time, he worked as a Medical Investigator for the Mercer County Medical Examiner’s Office. He and his wife Samantha, a teacher at Reynolds Middle School, and their sons Nicholas and Anthony, live in Hamilton Square. The two boys play football for Hamilton PAL and he has been an assistant coach for the past seven years. Under questioning by his fellow Rotarians, Chris admitted to being a fan of the New York Jets. He has quickly become active in club projects and we look forward to his continued efforts.
TASK T-Shirt Donation
The Rotary End Hunger 3.6 project was completed today with delivery of several hundred event tee shirts to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) for their clients. TASK usually distributes vouchers for people to purchase items at the Rescue Mission Store, but that outlet is closed now. Earlier in the week, about 500 lbs. of remaining foodstuffs were delivered to TASK. Yesterday, final pick-ups were made by food pantries, assisted by Hamilton Area YMCA employees.
The original plan was to have a one-day event in March to package 150,000 meals, but it was cancelled. Under the leadership of club President Bill Coleman and members of the Hightstown Elks Lodge 1955, a new plan was put in place to have small groups perform the work at the lodge while observing social distancing. Hundreds of volunteers completed the project in eight days, and the final results were 720 cases with over 155,000 meals distributed to Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, the Salvation Army, HomeFront and dozens of area food pantries.
Thank you to everyone who volunteered.
New Member Shares Lifetime of Service
New members of the Rotary Club are asked to give us a “Classification Talk” so we may get to know them better. At our meeting online last night, self-described “Jersey Girl” Cindy Schwab Rosen told us about how her early life led to a career in real estate, her volunteer work with Project Linus, and the founding of the Mercer Mask Project (www.mercermaskproject.com). Cindy is a great example of our mission of “Service Above Self.”
5/19/20 Meeting Highlights
The guest speakers at the weekly Rotary Club meeting last night were Paula and Jack Beiger. The two are well known as the publishers of “Our Town,” a free magazine available at over 250 business locations in our area. However, their topic was complementary/alternative medicine. Paula is a survivor of Stage 3 cancer and credits holistic healing methods for her recovery. They have launched a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation called Let There Be Health with a mission of assisting individuals with cancer to be able to seek complementary/alternative treatments that are not covered by insurance, and also to assist those same individuals with extraordinary expenses that may be incurred. Paula has written two books, “Guided Cure” and “Hope and Miracles,” with proceeds from sales going to the foundation. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/LetThereBeHealthNJ/, or http://lettherebehealthnj.org/.
Bagels For Heroes Continues!
We got an early start today with “Bagels for Heroes.” Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton made stops at Nottingham Volunteer Fire Company, Hamilton Township Fire District 9 & Groveville Fire Company, and White Horse Volunteer Fire.
Thanks to Sezer Ates and Caesar’s Bagels & Deli for providing breakfast, and my Hamilton Area YMCA BASE staff for joining the delivery run. And thanks to project coordinator Keith Platt for leading the effort!
Next Friday is our last episode. Don’t miss it!
Happy Memorial Day Weekend, Hamilton.
Bagels for Heroes Deliveries
On Friday, the Rotary “Bagels for Heroes” deliveries from Caesar’s Bagels & Deli included to RestorePro Emergency Property Damage Restoration, Haldeman Nissan Service, RWJ Hamilton Hospital and Rusling Hose Fire Company.
End Hunger 3.6 finished today – several days earlier than projected. Thank you to all of our Sponsors and Volunteers who made this happen. Kudos to President Bill Coleman in leading this effort!
Partners for a Better Community With Hamilton YMCA
The Rotary Club helped support the Hamilton Area YMCA’s Food Drive with a delivery of non-perishable meals which were packaged at our ongoing End Hunger 3.6 event (www.rhrotary.org/end-hunger-3-6/). For more information about the “Y” Food Drive, visit https://www.tapinto.net/…/ymca-food-drive-helping-hamiltoni…. Pictured in front of the YMCA, from left, are the Hon. Chuddy Whalen, Hamilton Twp. Councilman; Dan Sczweck, YMCA Director of Staff Development; and Tyler Koerber, YMCA Director of Youth Development.
End Hunger 3.6 Status Update: 5/7/20
Rotary Club President – and Co-Chair of the Mercer County area End Hunger 3.6 project – Bill Coleman reported that our meal-packaging effort is building momentum but still in need of volunteers to sign up at www.rhrotary.org/end-hunger-3-6/. As cases of non-perishable meal packets are produced, they are being picked up by organizations such as local food pantries, Mercer St. Friends Food Bank, HomeFront, and others. Food insecurity and hunger in our area, made even more acute in these challenging times, are eased with work being done right now at the Hightstown Elks Lodge, so please consider volunteering.
5/5/20 Weekly Zoom Meeting
The guest speaker at the Rotary Club meeting last night via Zoom was Preston M. Irving, Sr. District Executive of the Washington Crossing Council of Boy Scouts of America. Preston, also a fellow Rotarian with the Trenton Rotary Club, told us about the history of scouting, how BSA has grown with multiple programs and membership for girls, and how they are addressing organizational challenges, including continuing their programs during the current health crisis.
In other business, President Bill Coleman stressed the urgent need for volunteers for our End Hunger 3.6 – Small Groups meal packaging event underway now (visit www.rhotary.org/end-hunger-3-6/). Chris Reetz reported that we have received a good number of scholarship applications (visit www.rhrotary.org/scholarships; the deadline is May 15). Keith Platt and Dan Sczweck reminded members that our “Bagels for Heroes” project is continuing on Friday mornings, and they need help delivering bagels from Caesar’s Bagels & Deli to healthcare workers, first responders and essential businesses.
End Hunger 3.6 Small Groups
Five production lines are set up at the Hightstown Elks Lodge 1955 for small groups of three each to fill packets with dry food stuffs – while social-distancing. Volunteers wear a face covering; gloves, aprons, hair and beard nets (provided). Click for Video.
End Hunger 3.6 Off To A Good Start
Our Rotary Club’s revived “End Hunger 3.6” project got off to a good start this morning with Rotarians, Hightstown Elks and volunteers unloading foodstuffs and supplies to set up next week’s meal packaging event. East Windsor Twp. gave permission to have small-group production lines with social distancing. There are morning and afternoon 3 hour shifts from May 4 thru May 20, except for Mother’s Day. Volunteers are needed, so visit https://rhrotary.org/end-hunger-3-6/ if you can help fight food insecurity in our area. Special thanks to Bohren’s Moving & Storage for storing and delivering the supplies as a contribution to the effort.
Guest Speaker – Jodi Marra,Executive Director of Robbinsville Meals on Wheels
The guest speaker at the online Rotary Club meeting last night was Jodi Marra, the new Executive Director of Robbinsville Meals on Wheels, Inc. Jodi’s volunteer service with the non-profit started about six years ago as a substitute driver. Since then, she has helped provide lunch and companionship to homebound residents of the township on a regular schedule. When the previous director John Ward announced his retirement, Jodi accepted his recommendation that she take over. She told us they are doing drop-off deliveries of cold lunches rather than bringing hot meals into clients’ homes.
In a social media post on Sunday with a health crisis update, Dave Fried, the Robbinsville Mayor, included this excerpt: “I do want to give special recognition to our Meals on Wheels volunteers, including Jodi Kenney Marra, Matt Mannino, Nitya Ramanan, Margaret Vardakis, Vinod Sharma, Tom Doyle, Joe Nalbone, Paul Sulyok, Pat McKeown, Wickie Hom, Deepa Muralidharan, Carol Hotchkiss, Kathy Hart, Jane Luciano, and Uman Naik.”
Keeping Rotary Alive With Online Meetings
Another Tuesday night, must be our weekly virtual Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton meeting! Good to see everyone and keep up the amazing community service.
Interested In meeting with us? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rotary VideoThanks Essential Personnel
President-Elect Tom Damm composed a video showing our members’ thanks to First Responders, Emergency Personnel and Essential Employees. Special thanks to Tom’s daughter, Kelly, for putting it together!
Bagels For Heroes
The Rotary Club’s “Bagels for Heroes” project got off to a great start this morning with deliveries to the RWJ-Hamilton ER department, Mercerville Fire House and Capital Health Urgent Care in Robbinsville.
Coincidentally, Rotary District 7475 notified us today that the club will receive a COVID-19 Project Grant in the amount of $1,000 to help pay for the effort.
Keeping Rotary Alive!
Hanging out with fellow Rotarians! The Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton’s weekly Zoom meeting is always a great way to connect while we can’t be there in person. Interested in finding out more about us? Click Here
Rotarians Give Thanks to Essential Workers
Club Rotarians took to the streets of Hamilton today to say “Thank You” to some of our essential workers, businesses and volunteers for their dedication to the community during the COVID-19 crisis. This coming week we will continue this tribute in Robbinsville, Hamilton and the surrounding area.
More protective medical masks were delivered today as part of one of our COVID-19 relief projects: Darlene Hanley, President & CEO of St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center, is pictured at Morris Hall after receiving 200 masks; and our President Bill Coleman is shown outside Hamilton Continuing Care Center on his way to deliver 300 masks to Yolanda Stinger, their Director of Marketing & Community Relations. Yolanda is also a great Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Hamilton Township.
Masks Delivered to the Front Line
Our Rotary Club’s donation of protective medical masks continued today with 250 donated to St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton. Pictured are community service volunteer Lucy Evans Valentin and Duane Cline, the hospital’s Director of Safety & Security.
Nottingham Insurance Awarded $10K for Mobile Meals of Hamilton
One of our club founders, Rotarian Greg Blair, his family and his company, Nottingham Insurance, have been vital supporters of Mobile Meals of Hamilton Twp. for many years. Here’s an article about a recent success they had securing funding for the organization: https://www.tapinto.net/…/making-more-happen-nottingham-ins….
NJ Rotary District 7475 Donates Needed Ventilators
Our Rotary District 7475 recently donated ten ventilators to New Jersey hospitals, using district foundation funds combined with a grant from The Rotary Foundation. Read more here….https://www.nj.com/…/nj-rotary-district-donates-10-ventilat…
Rotary Delivers Masks to Front Line
Our Rotary Club members donated funds to purchase 2,000 medical masks to help our front line workers during the COVID-19 epidemic. The first distribution yesterday was 200 masks for Nursing staff at RWJ Hamilton Hospital. Today 400 were donated to the Robbinsville Police Department. Pictured are Rotarian and Nurse Danely Gonzalez, RPD Communications Officer Eric Coran and RPD Lt. Mike Polaski
New Member Induction Our First Online
Marilyn Silverman was inducted today via video conference. The induction was officiated by Scott Biondi – Club Secretary. Also in attendance was Joe Cavone Marilyn’s Sponsor, Chris Reetz and Club President Bill Coleman. This will go down in the Robbinsville Hamilton Rotary history books as our first ever online member induction. Congratulations Marilyn!
Meeting Highlights 3/6/20
Our guest speaker today was Lisa Mihalyi, Account Representative for Mercer County, for Holy Redeemer Healthcare & Hospice. Lisa, a former member of our Rotary Club, showed us a YouTube video called “Anna’s Story,” an account of a woman who had not planned well for her end of life care. Lisa emphasized the importance of families having frank discussions about that difficult subject, and people having written medical directives. To contact Lisa for information, email her at Lmihalyi@holyredeemer.com.
Project Linus, Mercer Street Friends – Partners in Service
Thank you to Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton President Bill Coleman and Rotarian Linda Gearren who went to Mercer Street Friends for a tour of their Food Bank facility in West Trenton. While there they surprised Brian Peterson with Project Linus – Mercer County, NJ Chapter handmade blankets!! Brian Peterson is the Director of Community and Donor Relations for Mercer Street Friends!!
Rotary Clubs Featured
At a meeting in January, Rotarians from our club and the Rotary Club of Hamilton Township had photos taken for feature articles about us in the upcoming March editions of “Our Robbinsville” and “Hamilton Square Neighbors” magazines. Pictured in the front row, from left, are Hamilton Club members Diane Grillo, Jim Federici and Len Nemeroff (their president), and Cindy Rosen; in the back row, Umang Naik, Club President-Elect Tom Damm, Dan Sczweck and Club President Bill Coleman. Publisher and Rotarian Joe Cavone shared these front pages with us as a preview, and we’ll post more for our Followers to Like after the magazines hit peoples’ mailboxes in March. For information about the publisher, visit www.facebook.com/MercerNeighbors/.
Thanks to everyone who came out to help at our Make a Blanket Day today! We collected 76 blankets, made 23 more, and received over $300 in donations!! Check us out for more info www.facebook.com/projectlinusmercercounty
2/14/20 Meeting Highlights
Our meeting today was a “Club Assembly,” with focus on fellowship, club business items and planning for upcoming events. We also heard “Classification Talks” by two of our newer members, Jodi Stephens, Executive Administrative Assistant, and Joy Tozzi, Township Administrator, both employed by Robbinsville Township. Such talks allow us to get to know new members better. They are committed to perform community service and said how excited they are to add membership in our Rotary Club to their efforts. (Photo taken at their member induction ceremony in October).
Club President Speaks at Trenton Rotary
Club President Bill Coleman was the guest speaker today at a meeting of the Trenton Rotary Club. He gave the Rotarians an update about End Hunger 3.6, a March 21 Rotary District event at TCNJ during which volunteers will package about 150,000 meals for distribution by Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and the Salvation Army. Pictured with Bill, from left, are Trenton club members Diane Gerofsky (also the Mercer County Surrogate) and Christine Secrist, their club president. Our Rotary Club Past President Ken Diener was also in attendance. End Hunger 3.6 needs several hundred more volunteers to work on meal packaging production shifts from 9 am to 3 pm. To volunteer, visit rhrotary.org/end-hunger-3-6/.
Vern Applegate Community Service Award
Our meeting today included presenting the Vern Applegate Community Service Award to Eileen Eversheim, Exec. Dir. of Mobile Meals of Hamilton Township. During her fifteen plus years with Mobile Meals, Eileen and her volunteers have provided hot, nutritious meals to hundreds of homebound, chronically ill, handicapped or convalescing Hamilton residents. After presentation of the award by Rotarian Scott Biondi, and heartfelt words from Eileen about her drive to help others, Club President Bill Coleman presented her with a $1,000 donation from our foundation. For more information, visit www.mobilemealshamilton.org or call 609-448-4088.
Many thanks to Gerhard Franz, Club President, and his fellow members of the Rotary Club of Princeton Corridor for their warm hospitality in hosting a joint meeting of area Rotary Clubs at the Princeton Hyatt today. The large group of Rotarians heard keynote speaker Pat Ryan, President & CEO of First Bank, talk about trends in the banking industry and offer good advice for small business owners. Also, our President Bill Coleman spoke about the need for volunteers for the End Hunger 3.6 event on March 21, and we were given information about the Boys & Girls Club College Fair for Mercer County-area high school students and their parents on March 12.
Meeting Highlights 2/7/20
Our guest speaker today was the Hon. Dave Fried, mayor of Robbinsville Township. He talked about his commitment to balance economic growth with attention to quality of life and recreation. Robbinsville has set aside over 1,550 acres of open space since 2000. The former Miry Run Country Club has been preserved and will be managed as a new park, including creating trails from the former golf cart paths and providing other passive recreational opportunities. Mayor Fried has used State of the Township events to raise over $300,000 for those in need and to encourage others to “Pay it Forward” through service to the community. This year, funds raised will be donated to the C.A.R.E. program, an ongoing effort to offer treatment options for those suffering from opiate/opioid addiction. For more information, visit https://www.robbinsville-twp.org/news_detail_T2_R374.php or call Jodi Stephens at 609-259-3600 Ext. 1102.
We also welcomed our February Students of the Month who told us about their accomplishments in high school, community service work, and plans after graduation. Pictured, from left, are Mayor Fried; Andres Blanco Bonilla, Hamilton West High School; Magdely Diaz Deleon, Nottingham High School; Shriya Patel, Robbinsville High School; and Greg Blair, Students of the Month Committee Chairman.
A team of Rotarians, including Ray & Mary Nowak, Chris Reetz, Nev Greenough, Sharon Lucidi, Bill & Heidi Coleman, Cindy & Allan Rosen and Umang & Akshita Naik met at the Naik’s home in Robbinsville today for a community service project to make, tie and trim fleece blankets for the children served by Project Linus. The Mercer County Chapter of Project Linus is headed by Cindy and her team of volunteers and provides new, homemade blankets for warmth and comfort to children in need. Rakesh Naik, visiting from India, joined the effort. To learn more, donate or volunteer, visit projectlinus.org.
Meeting Highlights 1/31/20
Our Club meeting today was a busy one. The guest speaker was Eric Wimmer, Co-Founder and Head Chef at The Blue Bears Special Meals located in Princeton Shopping Center. He told us how the non-profit café was started, how their employees are trained for a lifetime of gainful employment, and how their breakfast and lunch meals and bakery items are all prepared from scratch. This quote from a profile of Chef Wimmer: “The Blue Bears Special Meals is more than just an organization where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities earn and own their jobs – it’s an experience.” To learn more about them, including ordering online, visit www.bluebears.org.
Meeting guests included Christine Secrist, President of the Trenton Rotary Club, who presented our President Bill with a $7,000 donation for the End Hunger 3.6 campaign; and Len Nemeroff, President of the Rotary Club of Hamilton Twp.
Rotarian Dan Sczweck, the Executive Director of The Miracle League of Mercer County, gave the club a preview of the 2020 baseball season.They plan to field 10 teams with about 120 players, with registration open now for the spring season; on August 5, an annual All-Star Game will help celebrate their 15th season and raise funds for facilities improvements; the TCNJ baseball team has volunteered to provide instruction to the league’s players; and the “Miracle League Sports Network” is sharing information about such programs nation-wide. For more information and to donate, visit miracleleaguemercer.org.
Finally, the Club presented an Appreciation Award to proprietor Chris Kurnellas and staff of the Golden Dawn Diner for their years of hospitality in hosting our weekly meetings, and for his continued support of our club.
Meeting Highlights 1/17/20
Our speaker today was Robert W. Craig, Principal Historic Preservation Specialist with the New Jersey DEP, where he manages the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places program. Bob has written extensively about Central New Jersey, including about the early history of East Windsor, West Windsor and Robbinsville Townships. For Hamilton Township, he wrote the Register nomination for the Isaac Pearson house. He has been in the forefront of improving ways to research historic buildings, and his writings have been widely published in leading historical and archaeological journals. We were also pleased to honor our January Students of the Month. Pictured, from left, are Caylee Aanonsen, Nottingham High School; Rotarian Wally Sawka; Robert Angarone, Steinert High School; Nayeli Franco, Hamilton West High School; and Jaii Pappu, Robbinsville High School.
Meeting Highlights 1/10/20
We were pleased to welcome Diane Grillo, Jim Federici and club president Len Nemeroff from the Rotary Club of Hamilton Township to our meeting today. We posed for a group photo for an article about Rotary planned for the March editions of “Our Robbinvsille” and “Hamilton Square Neighbors” magazines.
Sidney Pereira de Souza e Silva, from the Rotary Club of Cariacica Campo Grande in Barrio Sao Francisco, in the state of Espirito Santo, Brazil, was a surprise visitor who received a club banner from President Bill Coleman and spoke to us. Given our club’s history of supporting Hope Unlimited’s mission of child rescues, members were especially interested in Rotarian Sidney’s recounting his childhood living on the streets as a 6-year old and being rescued to go on to a successful life. He wrote “RESCUED TO TELL: Diary of a Street Kid,” a book about his experience.
Also, one of our newer members, Chris Kelly, gave us his “Classification Talk,” enabling members to learn more about his personal background and career.
Meeting Highlights 1/3/20
After a couple of meetings off during the holiday season, our Rotarians were back at work for our Friday AM meeting. Our guest speaker was Brian Peterson, Manager of Community & Donor Affairs, at Mercer Street Friends. He spoke about the impact their “Send Hunger Packing” program has on 1,300+ school children in Mercer County, and about their other programs to reduce hunger, break the cycle of abuse and neglect and close education disparities.
On March 21, area Rotary Clubs will host “End Hunger 3.6” at TCNJ with the goal of packing over 150,000 meals – many for the Mercer St. Friends Food Bank – so Brian detailed how they will be distributed to food pantries and other agencies. Pictured with Brian are Rotarian Umang Naik and Club President Bill Coleman.
If your New Year’s Resolutions include doing more to help those in need, please consider joining the Rotary Club. For more information, send an email inquiry to email@example.com. You are welcome to attend our Friday meetings from 7:30-8:30 at Golden Dawn Diner in Hamilton to meet club members and learn more about Rotary.
Toy Donation for Womanspace
Our club delivered over five dozen new, unwrapped toys to Womanspace this morning for distribution to their clients. Pictured after accepting the donation is Erica Torsiello. The non-profit Womanspace offers help to women, men and families impacted by domestic and sexual violence. For more information about their emergency, legal and children’s services, residential housing, and counseling and support, and to donate or volunteer, visit https://womanspace.org/. Their 24/7 Crisis Line is 609-394-9000.
12/19/19 Holiday Party
Rotary Club members gathered last night at Villa Maria Restaurant for lots of food, drink and fellowship at our annual Holiday Party. Mindful of purpose, we also auctioned off the “Immunity Necklace” – it protects the caretaker from fines at club meetings – and had a “White Elephant Auction” to help fund our annual James A. DeBold Scholarship. Further, we collected new toys to donate to Womanspace.
12/13/19 Meeting Highlights
The Golden Dawn Diner was packed with people this morning for our weekly meeting. In addition to the election of officers for the Rotary fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, and regular business items, there were presentations from a guest speaker and our December Students of the Month. Rotary District 7475 Asst. Governor David Navazio introduced Major Elijah Kahn, who with his wife Valerie Kahn, are the officers managing the Salvation Army’s Trenton Citadel Corps. Major Kahn summarized the many services offered to those in need; thanked the club for helping organize “End Hunger 3.6,” an upcoming Rotary event to pack meals for their clients; and showed us an artist’s rendition of a proposed new Corps headquarters. The students told us about their accomplishments in high school, community service and future plans after graduation. Pictured with Rotarian Greg Blair, from left, are Benjamin Queval, Steinert High School; Shirley Price, Nottingham High School; Abigail Oliver, Hamilton West High School; and Nicholas “Nick” Foley, Robbinsville High School.
Our Rotary Club delivered 82 winter coats today to Sandro’s Coat Rack, located across Escher St. from the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). Sandro Cunningham, a youngster from Hamilton, formed the non-profit to donate winter coats to those in need after seeing a TV report about people going cold in the winter. TASK Executive Director Joyce Campbell joined us outside as the coats were unpacked and hung on the coat rack. We were especially pleased that TASK clients were immediately able to have a coat to wear. Pictured with Joyce are Sandro and his dad Ed Cunningham; pictured with Sandro at the coat rack are Rotary Club Past President Chris Reetz and Rotarian Nev Greenough.
12/6/19 Meeting Highlights
At a busy club meeting today, our guest speaker was Frank Caroselli, a Senior Consultant with Sunbelt Business Brokers, and the title of his talk was “Business as Usual? Not a Chance!!” Frank, a fellow Rotarian from the Clinton Sunrise Rotary Club, emphasized ways owners can increase current returns and maximize the value of their businesses.
We also inducted another new member, Cindy Rosen, who is a Broker/Associate with Gloria Nilson Real Estate in Robbinsville. Pictured with Cindy is her sponsor Joe Cavone and ceremony officiator Doug Conkling. Welcome, Cindy!
Before the meeting started, members arrived early for a hands-on project, the fourth annual assembly of “Winter Survival Kits” for the Trenton Rescue Mission. Thanks to project chairwoman Danely Gonzalez (pictured with her car full of items), and the generosity of people in our area, we packed 138 kits and had bags and boxes full of extra items to donate. Barrett Young, chief operating officer, spoke to us about the importance of the Mission having such things on hand to help people survive the harsh winter weather.
11/1/19 Meeting Highlights
The guest speaker at our Rotary Club meeting this morning was Leslie Gilman, Community Relations Specialist and physician liaison for the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. She told us about the transition of their area office – formerly Trenton Orthopaedic Group – to being part of the Rothman organization. TOG/Rothman’s Mercerville office offers a wide range of surgical and non-surgical treatment alternatives for orthopedic care.
10/25/19 Meeting Highlights
The guest speaker at our Rotary Club meeting this morning was Amman Seehra, Co-Founder and Board Chairman of ONE Project, a non-profit organization based in Robbinsville designed to unite faith and community leaders to address social needs. He told us about their numerous programs, including this summer’s NJ Hunger Project event during which 1,800 volunteers packed over 150,000 meals for donation to the Mercer St. Friends Food Bank. In his time away from doing community service, Amman serves as the Assistant Director of the Division of Family Development at the New Jersey Dept. of Human Services, providing leadership to public and non-profit agencies that deliver critical safety net services.
We were also pleased to welcome two new members to our club, Joy Tozzi, Township Administrator, and Jodi Stephens, Executive Administrative Assistant, both with Robbinsville Township. Pictured, from left, are their sponsor Sim Rochonchou, Jodi, Joy and ceremony officiator Doug Conkling.
Annual Gala Art Auction 2019
Thank you to a great team of Rotarians, and especially to the generous patrons and sponsors who made our club’s annual Art Auction & Silent Auction a huge success. With a large crowd enjoying great food and drink, and then spirited bidding action, the event raised thousands of dollars for our many charitable projects.
Four Successful Food Drives!
Thanks to the generosity of the Hamilton/Robbinsville area community, we had 4 very successful food drives this year, including today at Shop Rite Hamilton Sq. Our donations to the Mercer County Food Bank will be used for their “Send Hunger Packing” program to ease childhood hunger. The successful effort was spearheaded by Rotarians Joe Giambelluca and Scott Biondi.
10/4/19 Meeting Highlights
Today’s meeting featured fellow Rotarians from other clubs speaking about their work to help others. First, Brian Flynn from the Rotary Club of Bordentown told us about his club’s “Rotary4Recovery” program. They are addressing the opioid addiction crisis through prevention (e.g. seminars for local teens), awareness (e.g. a candlelight walk), and recovery, including providing essentials for individuals in post-rehab to re-enter the workforce and live sober, healthy lives. Rotarians Naveen Dasari and V. Hemachandu from the Rotary Club of Vijayawada, India told us about their many successful projects supported by past Rotary Global Grants, and “Rotarians Against Leprosy,” a project aimed at fighting the stigma of Leprosy and providing funds for reconstructive surgery. They are visiting Rotary Clubs in the U.S. to garner financial support for a new Global Grant. Pictured, from left, are Naveen Dasari, V. Hemachandu (also CEO of Gretnaltes, a Leprosy treatment consortium in India) and club President Bill Coleman.
Rotary Supports Hamilton YMCA
On Thursday, September 25th our Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton joined with many local businesses and community organizations to sponsor the I’M POSSIBLE Gala at the Mercer County Boathouse. This annual event for the Hamilton Area YMCA helps support a number of their Mission Programs, which were created to address and improve the quality of life for local Hamilton area residents. We were privileged to be a part of this worthwhile fundraising event. Several club members and their wives, including current club president Bill Coleman and his wife Heidi attended.
Meeting Highlights 9/28/19: Governor Visit, New Member
Today’s club meeting featured a visit by District 7475 Governor Ray Freaney. DG Ray, a member of the Rotary Club of Madison, is paying visits to all 85+ clubs in the district during his one-year term. After an introduction by Assistant District Governor David Navazio, a Trenton Rotary Club member, Ray spoke about the importance of bringing new members into Rotary and neighboring clubs working on joint projects, and about two of the district’s areas of emphasis: hunger awareness and assisting those working on the opioid addiction crisis. Also, another new member joined our Rotary Club, and DG Ray and ADG David were there to help welcome Chris Kelly, the Vice President of Commercial Lending at First Bank. Pictured are DG Ray Freaney, Club President Bill Coleman and ADG David Navazio; and in the second photo, from left, induction ceremony officiator Doug Conkling, DG Ray, Chris Kelly and his sponsor Greg Blair.
President-Elect Visits Maryland Club
Club President-Elect Tom Damm visited Maryland yesterday and proudly carried our club banner for an exchange with Carletta Allen, President of the Rotary Club of Annapolis, at their weekly meeting.
Club 27th Anniversary Picnic
Today marks 27 years since the founding of our Rotary Club on Sept. 25, 1992. This past Saturday some of our members celebrated the anniversary with a picnic at Judy Goldstein’s home in Robbinsville.
Club Supports 7th Annual Jersey’s Run/Walk for Recovery Fundraiser
On Saturday, our Rotary Club helped sponsor the 7th Annual Jersey’s Run/Walk for Recovery fundraiser at Mercer County Park hosted by Recovery Advocates of America, a non-profit group fighting against drug and alcohol addiction. They provide expertise and care in the areas of interventions, treatment placement, advocacy and additional services. They recognize that addiction is a life threatening disease that knows no boundaries, affecting the rich, the poor, those from the city and those from rural America. Therefore, Recovery Advocates of America, Inc. is dedicated to drug and alcohol relapse prevention, intervention, treatment referrals, family and recovery support. For more information visit http://recoveryadvocates.org/ or call them at 1-888-360-7788; they are available for help 24/7.
Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®
Our guest speaker today was JoAnne LaPergola, the Walk Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Greater New Jersey Chapter. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research, helping make the Association the third largest contributor to such research, third only to the U.S. government and China. JoAnne currently manages the Bradley Beach Walk which took place last Saturday and the Mercer County Walk, which will take place on October 5, at Veteran’s Park in Hamilton. To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and the association’s work, to donate to them and register for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, visit https://www.alz.org/ or contact JoAnne at 973-437-3931 x 8863.
Send Hunger Packing Food Drive #3
Our food drive today was at Foley’s Family Market, and Joe Foley and his store employees were great hosts! Plus, their generous customers donated hundreds of pounds of food for the “Send Hunger Packing” program. Brian Peterson and Jamal Cox from the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank joined our effort to ease childhood hunger.
Classification Talks 9/13/19
Our monthly Club Assembly meeting this morning featured Classification Talks by two of our newest members, Jodi O’Donnell-Ames and Umang Naik. Classification Talks allow us to learn more about new members, so they tell us about their personal background, education, family, working career and hobbies. Jodi and Umang also recounted events in their lives that inspired them to perform community service and join our Rotary Club.
Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey
Our guest speaker this morning was Pamela Stalcup, Director of Development and Communications at Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey. The non-profit has a number of programs aimed to prevent child abuse, including pregnancy and parenting counseling, home visits, and education of teens. Also, their Child Wellness Institute of New Jersey program called “Trauma Transformation: Healing Hearts and Building Resilience” works with childcare centers, school districts and before/after school programs to transform them into calm, nurturing social environments. For more information about their programs, volunteer opportunities and how to support them, visit www.preventchildabusenj.org. Pamela is a Past President of the Rotary Club of New Brunswick, and she volunteers with the Pajama Program and BookSmiles.
Former Astronaut Tells Gripping Tale
Our guest speaker this morning was Christopher Klim, author of the novels “Jesus Lives in Trenton,” “Everything Burns,” “The Winners Circle,” and “Idiot!.” However, he did not talk about his past writing, instead he told us a gripping, inside story about the U.S. space shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986 which claimed the lives of seven astronauts. Christopher was a NASA space program physicist and alternate astronaut for that flight. He recounted warnings that were given before the launch about design flaws, and detailed the poor way NASA handled the situation before and after the disaster. He has written a new work of fiction for future publication – tentatively entitled “Lost Mission” – loosely based on the Challenger event. He is pictured with Ken Diener, immediate past president of the club.
Send Hunger Packing Food Drive #2
Our second food drive of the year went well today with a large amount of food items and some cash donations collected for the “Send Hunger Packing” program. The always generous shoppers at Shop Rite Hamilton Marketplace really came through for us. Brian Peterson from Mercer St. Friends Food Bank stopped by to support our effort and Jamal Cox did a great job delivering the donations for us. Next up is Foley’s Family Market on Sept. 14.
School Backpack Donation
Today we completed our latest hands-on project, donating 80 backpacks with school supplies to Wilson Elementary School. Thanks to Selective Insurance for lending us their training room to fill the backpacks, and to a number of their employees for helping us.
We were given a generous and warm welcome at Wilson by May Fermin-Cannon, School Principal, and School Custodian John Badalamenti when we arrived to deliver the backpacks.
Melissa “Mei” Usdin Speaks About Rotary District 7475’s “Short Term Youth Exchange Program.”
Our speaker today was Melissa “Mei” Usdin, a rising Junior at Nottingham High School, who traveled to Japan this summer as part of Rotary District 7475’s “Short Term Youth Exchange Program.” Mei was one of only 28 students to be selected for the program. Students were asked to bring 3 exchange banners from their local Rotary Clubs for visits to District 2670 clubs in Japan, and we’re pleased that Mei chose to represent our Rotary Club. She showed us photos from the attractions in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, from her time with host families, and from a trip to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum.
Send Hunger Packing Food Drive #1
Thank you to Acme Market in Hamilton Sq. for hosting the first of our four annual food drives for Mercer St. Friends Food Bank’s “Send Hunger Packing” program. We collected hundreds of pounds of items for them to include in food packets given to local children during the school year. Next Saturday we’ll be at Shop Rite Hamilton Marketplace from 11 am to 2 pm to continue our hands-on project.
Meeting Highlights 8/16/19: Trisha Danze – Thea’s Star of Hope, New Member Induction, Visiting Rotarian from India
Trisha recounted how at age 5 months her daughter Thea was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and about her family’s journey to today when Thea, as a twelve-year old, is doing well. Trisha also told us about the formation of the non-profit Thea’s Star of Hope and its mission: “We aim to improve treatments and provide support for families of kids with brain tumors so that they can live and not just survive. That means we support research for improved therapies with fewer side effects and efforts to make treatments more tolerable. We also provide resources for families undergoing treatment or dealing with the long-term effects resulting from treatments”.
President Bill presented Trisha with a $250 donation from our foundation. To learn more and to donate visit www.theasstarofhope.org.
Our newest member, Joe Cavone, is the publisher of two magazines distributed in our area, “Our Robbinsville” and “Hamilton Square Neighbors,” and expects a third – “Mercerville Neighbors” – to launch soon. He aims to present positive news about Mercer County and its residents and neighborhoods. He is pictured with his sponsor Ray Nowak, at left, and ceremony officiator Doug Conkling.
G.V Lakshman, past ADG for R.I. Dist. 3160 and past president of the Rotary Club of Guntakal, India, told us about his club’s many impressive service projects, and President Bill presented him with a club exchange banner as a memento of his visit to the USA.
Since this was officially our monthly “Club Assembly Meeting” members assembled with our guests for a group photo.
Shelter Box USA
Our guest speaker this morning was Len Nemeroff, an Ambassador for ShelterBox USA, one of the largest disaster relief organizations in the world. After a fire, hurricane, tornado, tsunami or other disaster event, they ship ShelterBoxes and ShelterKits to the affected area. ShelterBoxes contain family-sized tents designed to withstand the elements and provide people with temporary shelter, and ShelterKits have essential tools for people to start repairing and rebuilding their homes. A charity ally of Rotary International for many years, ShelterBox relies on donations from Rotary Clubs, charitable foundations and the public to continue their work around the world. For more information and to donate to them visit https://www.shelterboxusa.org/. Len Nemeroff has been a member of the Rotary Club of Hamilton Township for 36 years and is club president.
Miracle League All Star Game
Several Members of the Robbinsville Hamilton Rotary were on hand to support the Miracle League of Mercer County All-Star Game: Thunder on the Road. The event was held at the Robbinsville Field House (indoors due to rainy weather) . The Robbinsville Hamilton Rotary was there to support the Miracle League and present a donation from the proceeds of the Rotarun. The Miracle League exceeded their $20,000 fundraising goal! Congratulations go out to Dan Schweck and his volunteers for a job well done!
National Night Out
Rotarians from our club are out tonite to help celebrate “National Night Out” hosted by the Robbinsville Police Department. We had giveaways for the kids, Rotary shopping bags for their parents (for a donation to our upcoming End Hunger 3.6 project), and information about the good works by our Rotary Club.
Meeting Highlights 8/2/19
Our Rotary Club meeting today featured two guest speakers. Carl G. Archer from Archer Law Office LLC, whose law firm focuses on the needs of those who care for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, spoke about the difficulty caregivers have with the complicated issues they face, and about the importance of seeking outside help instead of trying to handle things by themselves. President Bill presented Carl with a Certificate of Appreciation for his past support of our charitable foundation.
Sandro Cunningham, a nine-year old from Hamilton, told us about how at age six he formed a non-profit called Sandro’s Coat Rack to donate winter coats to the needy after seeing a TV report about people going cold in the winter. Also, with his five-year old brother Crescenzo, Sandro distributes personal hygiene items to those in need, so our club members collected and donated 6 boxes of items to him. His next project for Sandro’s Helping Hands is “Score for the Cure,” a soccer tournament in Chesterfield, NJ on September 15 to raise money for cancer research. Philadelphia Union soccer team members and their mascot “Phang” will be at the event.
Meeting Highlights 7/26/19
Our breakfast Rotary Club meeting this morning featured two speakers, both having had experience with great Rotary programs. First, Skyler Kolbe, a rising Senior at Robbinsville High School, who was sponsored by our club for the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) event held at Drew University in June, told us about her positive experience there. RYLA attendees learn from community leaders, inspirational speakers, and peer mentors how to unlock their potential to turn motivation into action. They also have fun and form lasting friendships. Skyler was inspired to coordinate an upcoming charity fundraiser in our area.
Then, a past Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Eileen Gilleece-Greaves, told us about studying on the scholarship at the Police Staff College in England and later at the UN Leadership School in Amman, Jordan. She studied policing methods, including use of DNA to solve crimes. Eileen, a retired New Jersey State Police Lieutenant, now works at Arcadia University in their security department.
We were also pleased to welcome Charles Scopari visiting from the Ringtown (PA) Rotary Club.
ONE Project NJ Community Food Packing Event
Robbinsville Hamilton Rotary Club Rotarians, families and friends joined with ONE Project NJ for a Community Food Packing Event at Robbinsville High School this morning to help fight childhood hunger in our area. The meals will be distributed through our friends at the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank.
Meeting Highlights 7/19/19
Today’s meeting included the induction of another new member into our Rotary Club, Jodi O’Donnell-Ames. Jodi is the Founder and President of Hope Loves Company, Inc., a non-profit offering support to those who have or had a loved one battling ALS. Welcome Jodi!
Also at today’s meeting, Rotarian Teresa Caro was installed as a club director. Pictured, from left, are Club Secretary Scott Biondi, Jodi, her sponsor Wendy Sturgeon, and Club President Bill Coleman. With Teresa Caro is Secretary Scott.
New Member Induction
We were pleased this morning to welcome our first new member of the 2019-2020 Rotary Year, Umang Naik from Robbinsville Township. Umang is the founder and CEO of CloudLabs, Inc., an IT consulting business with 30+ employees at its Robbinsville HQ. Pictured with Umang are Club President – and his sponsor – Bill Coleman, and ceremony officiator Doug Conkling.
Also, Rotarian Mike Brescio gave the club his “Classification Talk” in which he described growing up in Trenton and Hamilton, how his service in the U.S. Navy helped him earn college degrees, and his career as an environmental scientist with the U.S. EPA. Mike enjoys cycling, especially in events held for charitable fundraising. He plans to retire soon from the EPA and manage his business, Memory Makers Awards & Apparel.
Rotarians Help Young People to “Pay it Forward”
Rotarians from our club are volunteering at the Shine & Inspire Children’s Party today. We’re giving the children a number of items including first aid kits donated by RWJ Barnabas Health Hamilton Hospital. The kids receive two of the items so they can “pay it forward” to other children, the concept on which Shine & Inspire makes donations to those in need. For more information about them visitwww.shineandinspire.org.
2019/2020 Officer and Director Installation
A wonderful group of Rotarians and their spouses enjoyed an evening of fellowship and dinner at La Piazza Ristorante last night for our annual “Installation of Officers and Awards Ceremony.” We were especially honored by the presence of David Navasio, Rotary District 7475 Asst. District Governor, and new Trenton Rotary Club President Christine Secrist and her husband Ken.
Outgoing President Ken Diener outlined the many successes of his term, including a large number of new members joining the club and increased income from our fundraisers. Awards were: “President’s Citations” to Chris Reetz and Ed Drag; “Service Above Self” to Bill Coleman; “President Award for Service to the Club” to Heidi Coleman; and Paul Harris Fellow Recognitions to Greg Blair and Andre Caldini. New Club President Bill Coleman offered a vision of continued growth, financial health and increased charitable giving in the 2019-2020 Rotary year.
For more photos click here.